DRY SPELLS THIS YEAR ARE IN SOME WAYS COMPARABLE TO 1988

Written by: William R. Deedler, Weather Historian


IF THE SCANT RAINFALL AND LONG PERIODS OF RAIN FREE DAYS THESE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS SEEMED LIKE 1988 TO YOU...THERE IS SOME CREDENCE TO YOUR OBSERVATION.

THE NOTABLE DRY SPELLS DURING THE SUMMER AND EARLY FALL MONTHS THIS YEAR...IN SOME WAYS...DO BEAR A STRIKING RESEMBLANCE TO THE LATE SPRING AND SUMMER DRY SPELLS OF 1988. WHEN LOOKING AT AMOUNTS AND TIME INTERVALS AT DETROIT...NOTE THE FOLLOWING SIMILARITY:

.....1988.....       .....2002.....
DATES DAYS RAINFALL       DATES DAYS RAINFALL
5/24-6/21 29 .39       6/18-7/17 30 .32
6/23-7/15 23 .04       8/24-9/17 25 .05
6/3-7/15 43 .64       6/6-7/17 42 .66

THERE ARE TWO NOTABLE DIFFERENCES...FIRST AND MOST OBVIOUS...THE TIME OF YEAR AND SECOND...THE HEAT THAT ACCOMPANIED EACH DRY SPELL. WHILE THIS SUMMER'S DRY SPELLS WERE ACCOMPANIED BY GENERALLY WARM TO HOT WEATHER... THE HOT DAYS /90S+/ OF 1988 WERE GENERALLY HOTTER THAN THIS PAST SUMMER AND THERE WERE MORE OF THEM. SO FAR THIS YEAR WE TOTALED UP 25 DAYS OF 90 DEGREES OR BETTER...WHILE IN THE 1988...WE TOTALED AN INCREDIBLE 39 DAYS. IN ADDITION...IN FIVE OF THOSE 39 DAYS OF 1988 IT REACHED 100 DEGREES OF BETTER...WHILE THIS SUMMER...NO 100 DEGREE DAYS BAKED THE REGION. WHILE IT HAS BEEN A DIFFICULT GROWING SEASON THIS YEAR WITH THE COLD SPRING AND THEN THE HEAT AND OVERALL DRY WEATHER...THE EARLY TO MID GROWING SEASON OF 1988 WAS CERTAINLY NO PARADISE EITHER. THE VERY DRY CONDITIONS STARTED EARLIER AND AGAIN...WERE ACCOMPANIED BY HOTTER WEATHER AND MORE OF IT. AT TIMES...SOUTHEAST LOWER MICHIGAN RESEMBLED A SEMI-ARID CLIMATE FROM LATE SPRING INTO MID SUMMER OF '88. THIS TYPE OF HARSH CLIMATE CLEARLY STUNTED THE INDIGENOUS VEGETATION GROWTH OF THE REGION.

IT IS ALSO INTERESTING TO NOTE...THE SUMMER OF 1988 DID NOT EVEN MAKE THE TOP 20 DRIEST SUMMERS ON RECORD IN DETROIT (NOR DID THIS SUMMER BY THE WAY). THIS WAS MAINLY DUE TO THE CONVECTIVE RAINS RETURNING WITH REGULARITY IN MID JULY 1988...AS THEY DID THIS YEAR (AT LEAST FOR A WHILE) FROM MID JULY INTO MID AUGUST. THE SUMMER RAINFALL IN 1988 DID TOTAL LESS THAN THIS SUMMER...HOWEVER...WITH 6.53 INCHES AS COMPARED TO THIS SUMMER'S 7.89 INCHES.

WHILE BOTH OF THESE (1988 AND 2002) GROWING SEASON DRY SPELLS WERE VERY NOTABLE...THEY DID CONTAIN AT LEAST A FEW BREAKS OF RAIN. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE IN A LONGER DRY SPELL IN 1908. THE LONGEST STRETCH OF RAINLESS DAYS ON RECORD OCCURRED...IRONICALLY ENOUGH... ALSO DURING THE CURRENT TIME OF YEAR. FROM AUG 20TH THROUGH SEP 27TH, 1908...ONLY A TRACE OF RAIN FELL IN DETROIT! THIS 39 DAY STRETCH OF NO MEASURABLE RAIN WAS INDEED IMPRESSIVE FOR THE AREA. IN ADDITION...THE DRY WEATHER WAS FREQUENTLY ACCOMPANIED BY OVERALL... ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES (ESPECIALLY MID-LATE SEP) WITH TEMPERATURES CYCLING UP TO NEAR 90 AS LATE AS LATE SEPTEMBER. THE SEPTEMBER 1908 RAINFALL TOTALED JUST 0.55 OF AN INCH...FALLING IN JUST THE LAST FEW DAYS OF THE MONTH.


CITY..............SUMMER....RAINFALL
DETROIT            1911      3.58 (ABOUT NORMAL FOR ONE SUMMER MONTH) 
FLINT BISHOP ARPT  1998      5.00
*FLINT (UNOFFICIAL)1894      3.22
SAGINAW            1927      3.54

*UNOFFICIAL FLINT CO-OPERATIVE RECORDS

THE DRIEST GROWING SEASON MONTH ON RECORD AT ALL THREE CITIES: 
CITY..................MONTH/YEAR....RAINFALL
DETROIT                 AUG 1894      .16
FLINT BISHOP ARPT       SEP 1979      .32
FLINT (UNOFFICIAL)      AUG 1899      .04
SAGINAW                 SEP 1979      .00 (THE ONLY CITY OF THE 
                                           THREE TO HAVE NO RAIN 
                                           IN A CALENDAR MONTH)

DRIEST MONTH ON RECORD AT ALL THREE CITIES:
CITY..................MONTH/YEAR....RAINFALL
DETROIT                 FEB 1877      .04
FLINT BISHOP ARPT       JAN 1945      .07
FLINT (UNOFFICIAL)      AUG 1899      .04
SAGINAW                 SEP 1979      .00 

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